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What Is BDSM – Everything You Need To Know

What Is BDSM

Once a concept reserved for the fringes of society and sexual pleasure, BDSM has hit the mainstream in recent years – as the BDSM community has expanded, it has brought a once-niche practice to the forefront. Discipline and punishment are key BDSM practices, and the recipient of these is typically a submissive partner, who enjoys being ruled by their “dom”, or dominant. Interested in learning more? Read on to learn the answer to “What is BDSM?”, what is involved and why it is far deeper than simply “kinky sex”.

BDSM (Bondage, Domination or Discipline, Sadism, Masochism), is used to refer to a type of sex that centers on the ideas of dominant and submissive roles, as well as usually involving the infliction of pain to enjoy pleasure. BDSM comes in a variety of forms and, when carried out safely and correctly, consensual BDSM sex can offer an incredible way to transform your sex life, and add a new dimension to your relationship.

One of the most important things to mention is what BDSM is not: it is not abuse, or an excuse to inflict pain or humiliation on a non-consenting partner. One of the main priorities of those involved in the BDSM scene is that all participants are safe, of age, consenting and having fun – the moment that any of these are absent, BDSM practices are not being followed.

The basis of BDSM is safety and informed consent – you should never do anything you are uncomfortable with, and make sure you retain clear, open lines of communication with your partner at all times.

Key Terms To Know

Key Terms To Know

There are a few key terms to get your head around early in your sex research:

Dominant

The dominant partner is the one who takes control. They will be the party inflicting pain, restraining and teasing the sub, and the person who is essentially running the show. While some couples like to switch up the roles and take it in turns playing dominant and submissive, the majority of people will find that they naturally lean to one role over the other.

Submissive

The submissive is the person being controlled by the dominant partner – they are completely at their mercy. It is important to note that despite the terms “dominant” and “submissive” , BDSM sex is more about erotic power exchange, and not one partner abusing the other. The submissive will have a set of clear boundaries, and these will have been clearly communicated and agreed upon by both parties before the session begins.

Bondage

One of the best-known terms associated with BDSM, bondage refers to tying another party up, or physically restraining them in some way. Ropes, cuffs and cable ties are all popular options – again, everything will have been clearly laid out and agreed upon beforehand. Click here to learn how to tie bondage knots.

Shabiri

Shabiri is a contemporary form of rope bondage, which has its origins in Japanese culture. Shabiri is often considered a form of erotic art and is believed to have inspired many of the bondage elements we enjoy today, including introducing many of the knots and ties which are still practiced by BDSM practitioners.

Vanilla

So-called “vanilla” sex is a term used to describe sex outside the BDSM scenes – that is, sex which is not centered on a kink. Some players may also refer to this as “normal” sex.

Learning the lingo can be tricky, but it can also be a great chance to connect with your partner – this is something you can learn about together, and offers a way to feel close and intimate as you explore together.

Safety Considerations

As we have mentioned, one of the most important elements of BDSM sex focuses on the safety and security of all partners involved.

Safety Considerations

Consent

It cannot be stressed enough: informed, enthusiastic, continuous consent is the bedrock of BDSM sex, and an absolute non-negotiable. This does not only require consent for the sexual act, but also for the adoption of BDSM techniques and practices, and must be given at every stage. If your partner has given consent for being tied up and spanked, but you decide to try breath play or choking, then your partner is no longer consenting. While consent is an absolute essential in any sexual experience or relationship, the nature of BDSM means that things can get rough, so make sure that you are both one hundred percent happy at every stage to keep you both safe.

Consent can look different depending on your relationship; some couples will draw up a contract, while for others, verbal agreement or cues will be enough – the most important thing is to communicate clearly, and listen to your partner.

Safe Words

Safe words are another non-negotiable in the world of BDSM. As the name suggests, these are specific words that either party – usually the sub – can use to end the situation, and this needs to be done immediately. Once the safe word has been used, any role play is broken and your partner released. Agree on these in advance, and make sure you are always listening and checking your partner.

Easy Release

If you use bondage as part of your BDSM play, you need to ensure that everything you use can be released easily. This includes purchasing cuffs designed for this purpose, which can be easily escaped from and learning to tie any knots safely and securely, ensuring that your partner can release themselves at any time.

Communication is the most important part of a successful BDSM relationship: do not underestimate its significance.

Top Tips For Getting Started With BDSM

For the uninitiated, the world of BDSM can seem a little intimidating, but there are a few dos and don’ts which can help ensure that you and your partner are focused on pleasure above all else.

Do

Don’t

  • Have an open, honest conversation with your partner before you get started, and keep the lines of communication open. Lay down your boundaries, expectations, and limits, and make sure you are both 100% happy at every stage
  • Choose a safe word, and make sure you both know how to use it.
  • Start slow – you can always build up when you gain more confidence and experience
  • Be open minded – you may find something you didn’t know you loved! Remember to use the safe word if anything gets too much
  • Make assumptions – if you are not sure, ask your partner
  • Start your journey with something too complicated or intense – this is likely to put you off exploring BDSM any further, and increases the risk of something going wrong
  • Force your personal kink onto someone who isn’t into it – that is not what BDSM is about
  • Feel bad if there is something you don’t want to do, or if you try something that just doesn’t work for you – everyone is different
  • Be afraid to call a time-out at any point

The Benefits Of BDSM

It may come as a surprise to learn that there are actually a number of benefits to BDSM – above and beyond merely getting you off.

The Benefits Of BDSM

● Improved Mental Health

According to experts, BDSM could help boost your mental health, reduce neurosis and increase your willingness to try new things. BDSM could also help to make individuals more extroverted, as they dive into things that really give them pleasure, and boost their connection with others – as we have discussed, this is a critical element of BDSM play. You may also find yourself becoming more confident, even if you typically play a sub role.

● Reduced Stress

In addition to getting you off, some studies suggest that couples who regularly engage in BDSM play have lower levels of cortisol – this is the hormone responsible for making you feel stressed.

● Closer Connection

Trying BDSM sex with your partner could also bring you closer together. The trust required for a successful outcome can be critical in helping you to feel closer to your partner, and enjoy a more intimate, loving relationship.

The History Of BDSM

BDSM is a practice with a long and rich history, dating right back to Mesopotamia, where the fertility goddess, Inanna, was said to strike her subjects with the intention of arousing them. The theme is also commonly depicted in Greek art and throughout the Middle Ages. During the 18th century, a French nobleman known as the Maquis de Sade, coined the term “sadism” in his piece “Justine”, and the trend continued throughout the 18th century, in brothels, noble courts and nations across the world. The rise of the internet brought those interested in BDSM together and made it easier for fans to connect. Practices such as Shibari also became mainstream, and BDSM moved firmly into the public consciousness, gaining a new legion of fans.

Myths About BDSM

As the popularity of BDSM has grown, a number of myths and inconsistencies have also sprung up, and it is important to address and correct these miscommunications.

The ‘Dom’ Is The One In Charge All The Time

While you may assume that the partner in the dominant role is the one calling the shots, this is typically an illusion. For BDSM activities to be a success, both parties need to be in full agreement at every stage – the dominant role only appears to be in charge because the submissive role has allowed it.

It Is Just Rough Sex

BDSM can get rough, but rough sex is not the sole focus of BDSM. There is a lot more to a successful practice than this.

It Is All About Pain

Similarly, while some BDSM involves inflicting physical pain – for many BDSM participants, this is the core of the practice – this is far from the focus. In fact, many couples practicing BDSM do not even use pain play as part of their sessions; they may focus more on sex toys, bondage and physical restraint, or types of roleplay.

For BDSM and erotic play to work, both parties must be fully consenting adults. Even the most intense forms of the practice should not cause extreme psychological pain or significant distress.

Frequently Asked Questions

BDSM stands for Bondage, Domination or Discipline, Sadism and Masochism, and is a form of sex play in which each partner takes on the role of either the dominant or the submissive. Partners then enjoy an erotic power play, where one party controls and dominates the other, providing pleasure and arousal according to pre-determined boundaries.

A Switch in BDSM refers to a situation in which one partner plays the opposite role to that they typically enjoy – for example, a dominant will take the role of a sub, or vice versa. This can be a great way to alleviate anxiety and form a closer bond with your partner.

A Brat in BDSM refers to a role that may be played by the submissive. This involves being mildly disobedient or disrespectful, and may include the sub talking back; this can form a large part of the power play and is very important in helping some couples reach peak satisfaction.

A Rigger in BDSM refers to any party who makes tying and binding part of their sexual activity – usually with ropes. Traditional techniques such as Shibari may be used here. In addition to this, the term ‘rope bunny’ refers to an individual who is tied up with rope by another person.

A Little in BDSM refers to the party who submits to the will of the other partner and may act in a child-like way throughout the sexual activity. In some situations, they may even retain their “little” personality even outside of the bedroom, until they are released by the dom.

Conclusion

The world of BDSM is a fascinating one, and there is a great deal to explore beneath the surface. While some mainstream depictions are a little off in their presentation of what is BDSM – 50 Shades anyone? – the fact remains that exploring BDSM can be a great way to add something new to your relationship and bring you and your partner closer on many levels. Have fun!

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